Skip to content

Adventures In Advertising Presents: Fear of a Red Planet

Oh, advertising firms. How much do you just not like women? Hold up! Don’t answer: I know this. The answer is, “a lot! Advertising firms dislike women, a lot.” They dislike them so much, in fact, that they have inspired this spec script for my new hit TV drama, Mad Men: The Next Generation:

Jean-Luc Picadvertising: Hey – you know who everybody doesn’t like? Women!
Pete Campbell’s Grandson, Dave: Ha! Yeah! I don’t like women myself!
Jean-Luc Picadvertising: Well, think about it: maybe we can get people to buy this product of ours by establishing that it hates women! Just like they do!
Geordi LaFadvertising: Bad news, you guys. This product is supposed to be purchased primarily, if not exclusively, by women.
Pete Campbell’s Grandson, Dave: Ha ha, women. They suck so much!
Jean-Luc Picadvertising: They totally do! High fives all around! By the way, where is Don Draper’s grandson, Steve?
Geordi LaFadvertising: We don’t know.
Pete Campbell’s Grandson, Dave: He is very mysterious.

Okay. Maybe it needs some work. Regardless, I am confident that its dialogue is 100% factually accurate! I base this completely reasonable conclusion on (a) the magically-manly-making Ketel One ads, (b) those disastrous Bacardi ads (hey, lady-customers! Aren’t girls who don’t look like models hideous and therefore worthless? Um, we assume everyone who buys our product is a professional model, right?) and (c) the most baffling advertising campaign ever conceived by man,, sent in by reader Kelly D. (Hi, Kelly! I believe this is what the kids call a “shout-out!”)

Zack, you see, is a sixteen-year-old boy. A sixteen-year-old boy, with a blog! UNTIL…

So something weird happened to me last night and I’m just trying to deal. Went to the bathroom this morning to find that I suddenly possessed the aiming ability of a defective garden sprinkler. Soon thereafter I discovered that a super important body part of mine had gone missing.

Ruh-roh! I wonder what this “super important” body part could be? And why it has anything to do with his “aiming ability” in the pisser? UNLESS… oh, no! Penis emergency! Zack’s penis is missing! Best file an Amber Alert for that business, Zack! But wait: if Zack doesn’t have a penis any more, does that mean he has no genitalia whatsoever? Is he smooth like a Ken doll down there? I mean, that’s certainly what I imagine, when I think of the absence of a penis…

Still in possession of girl parts “down under.”

Oh, OK. He has a vagina. Because, for the record, “vagina” = “absence of a penis.” Not “totally different body part that is in no way definable merely in relation to penises.” For the female, you see, is a defective male, and the mother is castrated and blah blibbity blah blippity bloop bleep millenia of male denigration of/theorizing about the existence of ladybusiness. Zack is a Freudian young motherfucker, if you ask me.

Now, considering that actual vaginoplasties are both expensive and difficult to obtain, I’m pretty sure that a few trans ladies wouldn’t mind receiving Zack’s magic vagina. It’s also nice that he gets to use the bathroom of his choice, without having to read or deal with some “feminist” (not enough quotation marks in the world, people) shit fit about it (including the obligatory, probably-not-meant-to-be-hilarious moment wherein the “”””feminist”””” refers to some woman’s penis like it is the shark from Jaws: “The dick is still there in many cases, waiting, just waiting for a reason to penetrate something or somebody.” Dunnnh-DUH. Dunnnh-DUH. Dunnh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-TAKIN’ A PEEEEEEEEEE.) Actually, this whole campaign is fucking weird in that it kind of doesn’t acknowledge the existence of trans people in any way whatsoever – like, there are actually lots of trans men with vaginas out there, but Zack is just like, “what an unprecedented thing this is!” And by “fucking weird,” of course, I mean “totally predictable.”

But anyway. Zack is not a trans person. Zack is a cisgender dude with a magic vagina. A vagina with mysterious powers! For example: the vagina makes Zack bake things. Ha ha, because you can’t prepare food if you have a penis! The vagina also makes Zack enjoy terrible costume dramas: “on the Estrogen Channel” – ha ha, estrogen, because that is what ladies have, in their vaginas – “I got caught up in this English costume drama about a fancy young woman from the British upper class who falls in love with a simple bricklayer.” But you won’t believe what else the vagina makes Zack do. It is awful. It is terrible. It is:

Was getting dressed this morning and my pants wouldn’t fit right. It’s like a gained a bunch of weight… Watching a cooking show this morning, I cried a little when the chef cracked the eggs.

Oh NO! Zack! You have no idea what is coming next, do you, buddy? Why, it’s only the most horrible fearful thing in the world:

But now that I’ve got my period, I’m faced with perhaps my biggest challenge yet: the hideous, pristine all-white tuxedo that Chelsea picked out for me to wear to prom. I just hope the rose on my lapel is the only red we see that evening.


I am referring, actually, to the white tuxedo here. Apparently the vagina didn’t take care of that whole “fashion sense” thing like it’s supposed to. Zack’s vagina and Chelsea’s vagina were asleep at the wheel when it came to that particular decision.

Oh, but also: Zack gets his period. For, as I promised you, this is THE MOST BAFFLING AD CAMPAIGN EVER CONCEIVED BY MAN. It is an ad campaign FOR TAMPONS. Tampax-brand tampons, to be precise! Because, apparently, Tampax is the tampon so awesome that even dudes will use it. Not like all those inferior lady-tampons out there. Because, you know, coming up with a viral ad campaign for tampons starring a girl dealing with her vagina is just weak. Also: best to reel out the stereotypes about basically everyone with vaginas, in your vagina-product ad campaign! Because, you know, self-loathing sells.

But, whatever. Zack gets his period. Zack, like everyone in this entire society, hates and fears the period. I’m not interested in rescuing Zack’s self-esteem right now. No: I’m interested in his sex life! With Chelsea!

Took Chelsea Carr to prom last weekend. She looked great. Too bad I’m completely unequipped to be her boyfriend.

Um, Zack? I’m pretty sure that people with vaginas – boys and girls – date and have sex with women all the damn time. YOU’VE LOST THE LESBIAN AND TRANS MAN TAMPON VOTE, Zack. Best use all those sensitive vagina-feelings you have now to make amends.


Would you like to see Zack’s transformational, baking, nice-making, lady-genitalia loathing journey? ON FILM? Sure you would.

Oh, and also: there is a part where he shows his little sister his “secret.”




  1. fugitivus wrote:

    Oh, Freud. When I was very young, I read some Freud in a textbook my parents had. I was precocious enough to be capable of reading Freud, but not nearly precocious enough to understand many of the (batshit) nuances. I came away with the moderately uncomfortable conclusion that someday, when I was all grown-up, in order to complete my life cycle, my vagina was going to have to eat a man.

    Anyway, Summer's Eve needs to get on this advertising gravyboat. "I woke up this morning without my sprinkler… and IT WASN'T FRESH AT ALL." Kevin has to go stick his crotch in his girlfriend's face in, like, an hour, and he's not even CLOSE to smelling like peaches.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 8:57 am | Permalink
  2. snobographer wrote:

    I really really want to get past the white shorts and the rollerskates and the blue liquids in champagne glasses. But this so isn't where I want to end up.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink
  3. Cait wrote:

    Awesome takedown as always, Sady! I wrote a trans-POV look at this same topic last week at Shakesville, it's nice to see other feminists doing the Takedown Tango on it too. 😀

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink
  4. Sparklepants wrote:

    Just when I thought I couldn't be any more excited about using a Diva Cup, along came this.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  5. oshima wrote:

    Yup, I saw it first on Shakesville too, but this campaign is still sort of fascinatingly misguided to me. Maybe they thought the idea would be so EDGY and EVERYONE WOULD TALK ABOUT IT therefore it would automatically sell tampons, but to me it's just nonsensically odd.

    Also, as a fellow chap with a vagina, I'd like to take this kid aside and explain that one CAN indeed successfully pee standing, regardless of equipment; the technique is just going to be different. I get the feeling he's just standing in front of the toilet and letting loose, and THAT doesn't work regardless of whether you're male, female or otherwise. [/sarcasm]

    Likewise, having some new bits does not obligate him to bake, shop and have feelings. Methinks he's taking it too seriously.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 1:02 pm | Permalink
  6. Sady wrote:

    @CAIT! Hello! I totally fell down on the job with the blog-reading last week, due to Dworkin Comment Business. Can you send me a link to your piece, so that I can link to it in the body of the piece? It's totally no good when folks cover stuff first and I don't acknowledge them.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Permalink
  7. dulcinbradbury wrote:

    You know, if were a little indepenent film rather than a commercial, I'd almost think it cute. (Other than a few of the really annoyingly stereotypical parts.) I think it's a fairly accurate portrait of the teenage male perspective at the outset, and, I can attribute at least some of the WTF to the clueless teenage male perspective. If it *were* a little indie, it could grow into a much more nuanced perspective.

    Alas, it's a frigging tampon commercial. I find it baffling more that maddening. Exactly who are you trying to market tampons to? Then again, we'll all remember it as the weird commercial that *Tampax* did. :p

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  8. Cait wrote:

    No problem – hard to complain about your not doing enough for feminism, because you were busy defending it! 😀

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Permalink
  9. snobographer wrote:

    Anyone see the one with the lady and her beaver friend having fun out on the town? I think that was an Australian commercial that was apparently taken off the air due to complaints. I rather liked it myself. It was way funnier than this.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Permalink
  10. Sabertooth Screaming Lemur wrote:

    I don't get this at all. There's been a trend this summer of really weird ads- if they're not misogynist or mean, they're fucking baffling. If I wanted to spend my tv-time going "Whafuck??", I'd watch Aqua Teen.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 3:56 pm | Permalink
  11. Kel D wrote:

    Nice post.

    So, if we are moving away from blue water and skateboarding dogs, does this mean they will eventually use the shower scene from Carrie? That would be edgy.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 10:49 pm | Permalink
  12. tessarae wrote:

    yeah, this whole campaign is so bizarre. but i mean, i have never really understood the point of huge ad campaigns for tampon companies. their consumer base is pretty well built in, right? and isn't everyone pretty brand loyal when it comes to what tampons they use (at least, anecdotally, that's always been true for me/my friends/my mom). so even stupidity aside – and this campaign has that in bucketloads – isn't it all a bit pointless?

    Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 8:12 am | Permalink
  13. x. trapnel wrote:

    There's actually a recent YA book, Cycler, whose protagonist Jill finds herself with boybits for a few days each month. It's cute, in that YA way.

    Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Permalink
  14. Brigid Keely wrote:

    Oddly enough, fugitivus, my vagina DID have to eat a man in order to move on to the next stage in my life cycle. It was pretty awesome!

    I used to do a lot of work outdoors, and I go camping a lot, and my downstairs plumbing is nothing like a leaky sprinkler. It is more like a crashing mountain river. But, you know, it's totally awesome to imply that women are like urine fountains, getting piss all over themselves every time they use the toilet! Filthy things that they are. No wonder they smell like fish! And cry all the time!

    Friday, June 26, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Permalink